Above: Gardeners among the flower beds, Villa Taranto, Lake Maggiore - ANDREW HARPER EDITOR

The Italian Lakes are rightly renowned for their gardens, often centerpieced by glamorous villas. We have long recommended touring the exquisite topiary-filled estate of Villa Balbianello and the camellia- and azalea-rich grounds of Villa Carlotta, both of which overlook Lake Como (the Grand Hotel Tremezzo stands between them). I still do. But on this trip, I decided to explore some gardens new to me, in an effort to unearth some lesser-known gems.

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